Grow your business with Instagram

Grow your business with Instagram

Instagram can be an effective way to market your business. Make it work better for you by taking these three tips into consideration: 1) Form strategic partnerships. What good is an account if you don’t have followers? To start, create a list of popular accounts that would appeal to your target audience. When you’ve found them, you can then partner with them for what they call “shout-outs.” As you begin to gain momentum, you can drive those followers to your website and create specific calls to action. 2) Create content worth sharing. A standout Instagram post boasts both beautiful imagery and engaging text. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Be strategic about your selection. Remember a good photo evokes emotion and drives engagement. What this will look like for your business will depend on your industry and products, but think beyond pushing your products. After all, no one wants to be “sold.” You might consider inspirational or humorous graphics paired with appropriate text, or pose a question to encourage feedback. 3) Ask for engagement. Ever feel like you’re talking to an empty room after you post something online? You might not be direct enough. What action do you want the follower to take? Outright ask them to engage. For example, ask them to “double tap” if they agree with your post, or tell them to tag a friend. You might be surprised how effective a simple ask can be! Mastering the art and science of Instagram can have a significant impact on your reach, brand awareness, and ultimately the financial health of your...
Wow them with great customer service

Wow them with great customer service

If you ask a business owner how they are different from their competition, they will likely note customer service. But are you really walking the walk, when it comes to this area? Whether you sell B2B or B2C, your customers’ appetite for good service is only increasing, which means your service level must be up to snuff. Here’s how to take your customer service to the next level: Motivate employees. Help them help you succeed. That means helping them understand the goals you want them to reach and how you’re measuring them. Communicate your expectations and make sure they have the knowledge and tools they need to deliver top-of-the-line service. For instance, you might create a cheat sheet of answers to FAQs or customer service procedures to follow so employees can have this at their fingertips. It doesn’t have to be all serious either. You might consider engaging employees in friendly competitions and offer prizes for the winners. Or motivate employees to top their own sales goals by tracking their numbers and trying to improve by a certain amount each month or quarter. Data tells a story. If you conduct customer surveys or other means to assess satisfaction on the regular, you might be best served to review it monthly to look for big-picture trends. For example, if you’ve recently hired new personnel and customer problems are suddenly taking longer to resolve, perhaps it’s a training issue that needs to be addressed. Tune in. What are customers or prospects saying on social media and online rating and review sites? You can use social media monitoring platforms so you can...
The making of an expert

The making of an expert

Call it the chicken and egg phenomenon. People won’t take you seriously unless they perceive you as someone who know’s what they’re talking about, but how do you become an expert in the first place? It’s an ongoing process that requires laser focus, commitment and a variety of strategies, including: Build and establish credibility by writing articles for industry publications. It’s now easier than ever to find publications looking for new content. A good starting point is to secure a spot as a guest author in niche industry blogs. This will help you build some momentum (and samples) to pitch to larger publications. Make sure your articles are on point and error-free. No editor wants to waste his or her time correcting basic grammar.  Publish a book. The Internet has made it possible to self-publish. Writing a book can give you the leverage you need to impress clients, vendors and others. Speak at industry events. Seek out the types of events your ideal clients would attend. Put the time in to hone your public speaking skills so you can connect deeply with your audiences. If this doesn’t come naturally, you might consider joining a Toastmaster International club to build confidence and gain feedback in a non-threatening setting. Focus on the details. Autograph your work with excellence. Produce good work consistently and people will want to keep hiring you.  Land high-profile clients. It only takes one big name company to change your company’s trajectory. Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith by pitching to the big guns in town. These ideas are a good start. Remember, the expert was once the amateur. No...
Make the most of your mentoring relationship

Make the most of your mentoring relationship

Most people don’t get far in life without some sort of guidance. Mentoring or being mentored can be a wonderful gift, especially to entrepreneurs just starting out. If you’d like to be on the receiving end of this relationship, it’s a good idea to follow some ground rules. Here are a few: Be open to feedback. If you enlist the help of someone, be open to hearing their suggestions and constructive criticism. It’s all part of the process of self-betterment. Make it easy. When you want someone’s help, make it easy for them to help you. Most people are juggling a lot between work and personal life. If they can’t make time for lunch, offer to bring their favorite beverage to them and have the session there. Show appreciation. A cup of coffee or lunch every now and then can go a long way. People like to be acknowledged and small gestures can speak louder than words. Show your value. It’s not supposed to be all take and no give. Make it easy for them to mentor you. Ask direct questions and respect their time. Ask. Before asking for help, always know exactly what you want from a mentor; otherwise it will be a waste of time for both parties. Know where to look. You might find a mentor in an unsuspecting place. Think traditional venues like business organizations, nonprofit organizations, within your family, church groups, and even your local coffee shop. If you have ever mentored someone, what tips can you add to help enhance the...
Feeling stuck? Try this productivity tip

Feeling stuck? Try this productivity tip

We’ve all been there. You’re working on a project and you seem to hit a wall. What to do? The answer might be easier than you think. Boosting productivity may be as easy as changing scenery. Consider working remotely at your local coffee shop: 1. The environment can lift mood. Who doesn’t love the smell of freshly brewed coffee and pastries? Oftentimes they have art that can inspire and engage the parts of your brain associated with creativity. Also, it doesn’t hurt to be around other people with a similar end game. In fact, scientific research tells us that productivity can be infectious. 2. Coffee is a natural energy booster. Forget unhealthy energy drinks or stale instant coffee. Coffee is a tasty alternative that actually boosts health benefits. After all, what you put into your body will affect performance, mental acuity included. 3. Background noise can be good. Sometimes the office can be too quiet and kill inspiration. Many creative people find they do better with some noise, whether it be conversation, the hum of an espresso machine, or streaming music. 4. The human element cannot be overstated. Coffee shops can present business opportunities you might not encounter in the office. Chances are you’ll meet some interesting people who might be future clients or vendors. While a coffee shop cannot fully replace your office, it is a viable change every now and then. What other productivity tips have you found to be helpful? Share them on our Facebook...
Put your best foot forward every time, with the help of science

Put your best foot forward every time, with the help of science

We all know first impressions matter, but do you know just how much? New research might answer that. In five experiments that studied first impressions, researchers from the University of Chicago concluded that once you’ve made up your mind that someone is “bad,” it’s very hard to form a different impression. Are you feeling self-conscious yet? Sometimes we don’t present ourselves well in professional settings. Maybe you weren’t prepared enough for a sales call or showed up in a stained shirt. Don’t fret. The solution is to put your best foot forward, with the help of science. Take a cue from what experts have to say about the science behind first impressions: There’s no substitute for eye contact. Those who can look people in the eye are perceived as more confident and well adjusted. Loosen up. Focus on walking with a looser gait. Tight posture can give off the impression of being stuffy or unapproachable. It’s all about the handshake. There is a great deal of power in it. There’s a reason business deals are closed with this gesture. But that doesn’t mean it comes naturally for everyone. Sometimes professional encounters don’t go as planned. The good news is that a simple handshake can help to offset some of the damage and restore confidence. Try for firm, confident and friendly. Ladies, we’re talking to you, too! Dress for success. That will mean something different in every case. But a general rule of thumb is to dress similarly to the person you’re meeting. So if they typically wear jeans, it’s OK to show up in denim or khakis. Meet them where they...